FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Boaters in Broward will now have to keep it ‘low and slow’ all week long to protect migrating manatees.

During a meeting last September, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed a number of updates to provide additional protection to manatees which travel the Intracoastal and other waterways in Broward County.

“What happens is you get the weekend warriors out here and they’re not paying attention,” said boater Ed Elenson. “I see guys going behind my house going 30-40 miles per hour.  That’s where the problem lies with the manatees.”

Under the new rule, boaters in Broward County will have to slow down for manatees throughout the week, not just on weekends, from Nov. 15 through March 31, on portions of the Intracoastal Waterway in the northern part of the county. There also will be additional slow zones in a few other small areas and an expansion of the No Entry zone at the Port Everglades Power Plant’s discharge canal. In many areas, the manatee rule changes will not affect boaters, because there are existing year-round boating safety zones that are more restrictive.

Most boaters and those who live along the Intracoastal Waterway approve of the tighter regulations.

“Their immune system is low,” said Pino.  “If a boat hits them and cuts them open, their immune system is already suffering and they really have very little chance of survival.”

Manatees are protected in the state as a federally endangered species.  A shocking 767 manatees died last year in Florida.  Broward waters are a popular place for manatees to go to during winter. The aquatic vegetarian mammal migrates in search of warmer waters which are often provided by power plant discharges.

According to the FWC, as many as 927 manatees were counted on a single day in Broward’s waters in recent years.

For more information visit the FWC website.


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